KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 12 — Bintulu MP Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing sought to defend himself over his controversial remarks in Parliament yesterday about Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, saying he was not being malicious and merely wanted to push for a more hands-on approach in tackling the Covid-19 pandemic.
Tiong, who is Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) president, said he “did not intend to maliciously target” Dr Noor Hisham, and said that DAP MPs such as Jelutong MP RSN Rayer should not take advantage of his words for purported cheap publicity in the alleged guise of defending civil servants.
“Rather, my words reflect the frustrations of the frontliners and the people for the past several months,” Tiong claimed in a statement posted on his Facebook page last night.
Yesterday afternoon, Tiong had claimed, while debating the Bill for Budget 2021, that Dr Noor Hisham hardly visited his constituency during the Covid-19 period, before wondering aloud if the latter “takut mati” or feared death and if that was the reason for his alleged absence.
Rayer had yesterday asked Tiong to retract his statement, while Tiong had instead defended himself in the Dewan Rakyat by saying he was merely voicing out on behalf of the public and declined to retract his remark.
In the same Facebook post last night, Tiong again defended himself by saying his statement in the Dewan Rakyat “was not malicious”, acknowledging that civil servants do not have it easy and are working hard for the country but argued that any shortcomings must be identified and improved.
“As an elected representative, there is no reason why I cannot truthfully convey the grassroots’ and frontliners’ dissatisfactions and bring constructive criticism to the table,” he said in the Facebook post.
Claiming that the Covid-19 situation is getting out of control, Tiong also alleged that there have been “human errors” in decisions made over the prevention and control of the pandemic.
Among other things, Tiong said the affected areas in Sabah should have been cordoned off with immediate mass screenings once Covid-19 clusters have been identified as early as October, and suggested that parts of the government’s allocation worth billions of ringgit to fight the Covid-19 pandemic could have been used for large-scale Covid-19 tests.
In the same Facebook post, Tiong also questioned why the Health director-general had purportedly not personally gone down to the ground to visit Sabah when it allegedly faced a serious shortage of personal protective equipment amid the Covid-19 outbreak to inspect the situation and prescribe the right measures.
“Many have wondered why the D-G cannot himself visit the pandemic areas to give a firsthand report on the actual situation to the National Security Council and prime minister as soon as possible.
“Instead of holding those daily press conferences, he should focus entirely on the pandemic prevention work and hand over giving daily updates to the senior minister for defence,” he said, further stressing the importance of first-hand knowledge and also urging for a more effective response to the Covid-19 situation in the country.
Yesterday evening, Dr Noor Hisham had however indicated that he is not afraid of death as Muslims accept that death can happen whenever and wherever, while also noting that he had visited Sabah at the end of August to inspect the management and preparation for the Sabah state election.
Dr Noor Hisham said he had also instructed his deputies to visit Sabah last week to see the issues being faced there.